Censorship murders ideas
This paper analyses the sources, historical and biographical context and political significance of Freedom of the press: Views of a prisoner, an influential book in 1844 by Mihály Táncsics (1799–1884). Táncsics was a radical democratic, left-wing Hungarian writer, teacher, publisher and politician. He played an important role in the 1848 anti-Habsburg democratic revolution and as the publisher of the first peasant and worker newspapers in Hungary. The American constitutional and press system served as Táncsics’ main inspiration for the demand for unrestricted press freedom. His other sources included Enlightenment ideas (rationality, natural law and social contract theory), Hungarian progressive patriotic reformism of the early 19th century, and utopian socialism. Although Táncsics as a theorist of press freedom became rather influential, his plebeian press publishing efforts remained limited, due to low literacy rates among peasants and the slow post-feudal development of social structure in Hungary. In general, people’s Enlightenment or deep Enlightenment (as opposed to elite Enlightenment) could not take place in the country. This pattern has longue durée consequences for mediapolitics relations and the chances for democratisation in Hungary.
Médiakutató Summer 2021 pp. 91-104